As the morning sun rose on the streets of Abuja this Monday, Ndi Kato put on a black t-shirt, grabbed a marker pen and piece of cardboard, and left home. She scribbled the words “For southern Kaduna stop the killing” on the makeshift placard and made her way to Unity Fountain in the heart of the capital.
Soon, the 27-year-old activist was surrounded by hundreds more people, many of them singing, chanting, and carrying a wide variety of signs. “Buhari: Is this the change you promised us?” read one placard, while another stated: “We are graduates, we have no job, no accommodation and no livelihood”.
Similar scenes were taking place simultaneously across other cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Oyo, Benin, Uyo, and Port Harcourt. Tagged #IStandWithNigeria, the national protests were triggered by the ongoing economic crisis in the country, and demonstrators took the opportunity to air grievances, ranging from the rising cost of food, to lack of quality education, to unemployment, to ongoing corruption, to the erratic electricity supply and more.
“The country is in ruins,” said Kato. “Nothing is going right. There is a lot of injustice and extrajudicial murders.”
Omowunmi Afolabi, a management consultant based in Lagos, explained: “I joined this protest because I represent the voice of everyday Nigerians whose reality have been distorted.”